As soon as Week 1 of the 2022 NFL regular season arrived, it provided a quick reminder that the most predictable element of the league is still its unpredictability.
After the No. 1 preseason team in Sporting News’ NFL power rankings flexed to kick off the season on Thursday night, some wild and wacky results were seen on Sunday.
While some contenders followed the Bills’ lead, others raised questions. There also were some bottom-feeders who decided to get off the mat with a hot start. Here’s making sense of all those first impressions with an updated order, 1-32:
NFL power rankings Week 2
1. Buffalo Bills 1-0 (previous ranking: 1)
The Bills showed how fully loaded they are offensively around MVP favorite Josh Allen and defensively around newcomer Von Miller in dominating the Rams after getting out of their own giveaway ways. They are the team to beat in the top-heavy AFC
2. Kansas City Chiefs 1-0 (2)
The Chiefs also ripped a NFC West playoff-caliber team on the road by coming out firing with Patrick Mahomes and a different but still dynamic Tyreek Hill-like offense in Arizona. Andy Reid and his staff won’t let the Bills breathe easy above them.
MORE: Biggest NFL overreactions in Week 1, from Trey Lance to Patrick Mahomes
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-0 (3)
The Buccaneers didn’t get a ton of passing style points but Tom Brady didn’t need to do much in his first game coming out of retirement with the running game and defense dominating Dallas. Still, there were plenty of hints about how loaded his much deeper receiving corps is.
4. Los Angeles Chargers 1-0 (4)
The Chargers showed off their new-look defense well against the Raiders, with Khalil Mack on the revenge attack, even without new shutdown corner J.C. Jackson. MVP candidate Justin Herbert and the offense are a given every week and they seem to have found more sources of lightning.
5. Baltimore Ravens 1-0 (6)
The Ravens didn’t have their running game working with Lamar Jackson and without J.K. Dobbins, but they overcompensated with the contract-chasing Jackson lighting up the Jets through the air and the defense going back to looking downright dominant.
6. Philadelphia Eagles 1-0 (12)
Jalen Hurts looked off early passing but once he got running and throwing to new go-to weapon A.J. Brown, the Eagles’ offense looked balanced and unstoppable in Detroit. Philadelphia will need to keep scoring big because there are obvious new holes in its defense.
7. Minnesota Vikings 1-0 (14)
The Vikings unleashed Justin Jefferson and the rest of their diverse, dynamic offense more right away with new coach Kevin O’Connell. They also got more aggressive and active on defense for Ed Donatell to make a big-time statement vs. the Packers.
8. Denver Broncos 0-0 (10)
The Broncos should like their chances to turnaround into a playoff team, just as much with their running game and defensive potential as their major QB addition in Russell Wilson. It starts nicely with a chance to be all-around dominant in bringing him back to Seattle.
9. Los Angeles Rams 0-1 (8)
The Rams downplayed the offseason injury issues for Matthew Stafford and their running backs, as well as their offensive line minus Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett. They also sneakily lost key defensive elements around their stars. They need to use the Falcons on the road as a complete get-well game.
10. San Francisco 49ers 0-1 (5)
What was that? The 49ers were shorthanded around Trey Lance in the slop of Chicago and couldn’t find their usual footing in the running and passing games. Lance took plenty of lumps and the defense had shocking late breakdowns. They need to use the Seahawks at home as a complete get-well game.
11. Green Bay Packers 0-1 (7)
The Packers had major issues at offensive line and wide receiver around Aaron Rodgers going into Minnesota and that doomed their chances of keeping with a more explosive Vikings attack and revved up pass rush on the road. They can recover well with better health soon, much like after last season’s opening road debacle against the Saints.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-0 (15)
The Steelers didn’t look great offensively with Mitchell Trubisky, but they did just enough the passing game to steal the Bengals game to reward the takeaway-amassing defense. The overtime win had to feel good, but it may have come with the devastating injury losses of T.J. Watt and Najee Harris.
MORE: Grading NFL player debuts in Week 1, from Davante Adams to Matt Ryan
13. Cincinnati Bengals 0-1 (9)
The Bengals weren’t exactly Super Bowl hungover against the Steelers, but the camp and preseason layoff for Joe Burrow showed in his turnover woes. Although his big mistakes and special teams cost them, the biggest concerns should be about an offensive line that was supposed to be much improved.
14. Miami Dolphins 1-0 (19)
The Dolphins made a considerable splash with Hill and their exciting new-look offense to boost Tua Tagovailoa under new coach Mike McDaniel. The sound, active defensive effort on every level was even more impressive vs. the Patriots.
15. Dallas Cowboys 0-1 (11)
The Cowboys’ offense was a predictable blocking and receiving mess to open vs. Tampa Bay, with the late concerning hand injury to Dak Prescott adding injury to insult. The Cowboys’ defense definitely showed up to contain Brady as much as possible, even though it got gashed by the run. They get a crossroads game vs. the Bengals back at home.
16. Cleveland Browns 1-0 (18)
The Browns found their winning formula with Jacoby Brissett: A lot of running the ball with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and a lot of defensive disruption with Myles Garrett. They also had to be thrilled about rookie Cade York being their new centerpiece on special teams.
17. New Orleans Saints 1-0 (22)
The Saints had to be pleased with Jameis Winston coming back strong from his knee injury to bring the more aggressive passing game to life with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry. He even got a spark from his former QB threat, Taysom Hill. Defensive-minded coach Denis Allen needs to be a bit concerned, however, about his side of the ball.
18. Indianapolis Colts 0-0-1 (13)
Matt Ryan did provide reasons why he was the right passer for them, but the slow start and early mistakes kept them from finishing with a Jonathan Taylor-fueled victory in Houston. Their AFC South favorite status is in a holding pattern.
19. Chicago Bears 1-0 (25)
Justin Fields doesn’t get many style points for leading the Bears’ gritty comeback over the 49ers, but he dug deep to find the big plays when needed even when things were breaking down and not supporting him much in bad weather. The Bears also had to be pleased about their new-look defense under Matt Eberflus.
20. New York Giants 1-0 (26)
The Giants got a healthy Saquon Barkley to show off his explosive self and help settle Daniel Jones when it counted the most in Nashville. The new-look defense also came through despite missing two key young pieces. It was a promising first game for Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka.
21. Arizona Cardinals 0-1 (17)
The Cardinals couldn’t get much going offensively around Kyler Murray before it was far too late against the Chiefs and their defense without J.J. Watt has become an absolute mess all over the field. They don’t look anything like a playoff team again.
22. Tennessee Titans 0-1 (16)
The Titans did their best to keep their offensive formula working with Ryan Tannehill playing off Derrick Henry and the power run, but it’s harder to make plays with a whole new batch of playmakers. The defense should be more fundamentally worrisome for Mike Vrabel minus Harold Landry.
MORE: Breaking down Patriots’ sloppy Week 1 offensive showing
23. New England Patriots 0-1 (20)
The Patriots’ offensive play-calling dysfunction showed in breaking down around Mac Jones with nothing daunting in either the running or passing game in Miami. They also didn’t have the pass defense to which they were accustomed. Winning battles of attrition won’t work for Bill Belichick anymore.
24. Las Vegas Raiders 0-1 (21)
The Raiders can have an exciting offense with Derek Carr, Davante Adams and Josh McDaniels as the principals, but unfortunately they can be held back by blocking issues. They also don’t have enough reliable defensive playmakers to take pressure off that offense.
25. Washington Commanders 1-0 (27)
Carson Wentz nearly blew his stellar debut for his second NFC East team vs. the Jaguars, but he showed overall command in a new downfield passing offense. He made ideal use of all his weapons and saved the day for an all-around undisciplined defense.
26. Detroit Lions 0-1 (23)
Here we go again with the Lions not quitting and showing full “Hard Knocks” mode for Dan Campbell. They have too much offensive firepower and blocking around Jared Goff to not be relentlessly competitive in comeback mode. Unfortunately, the defense still can’t stop much of anything to help.
27. Houston Texans 0-0-1 (32)
The Texans felt confident about Davis Mills and the rest of their offense and their defense did overachieve vs. Matt Ryan. But there was still crumbling vs. the run and a late collapse for Lovie Smith, despite the “positive” result of no loss.
28. Carolina Panthers (28)
The Panthers made their first trip on the Baker Mayfield roller-coaster ride and got mixed offensive results of big plays and big breakdowns. Their biggest issue, however, seems to be atrocious run defense.
29. Atlanta Falcons (29)
Marcus Mariota and Cordarrelle Patterson delivered some good offensive vibes for Arthur Smith even with limited usage of Kyle Pitts. Unfortunately, the defense can’t stop key big plays passing or running.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)
The Jaguars were suddenly a highly functional offense with Trevor Lawrence operating under Doug Pederson, but they need to iron out some bumps. Defensively, led by Travon Walker, there were flashy moments in Washington, too. They just will need time to put all the young talent together.
31. New York Jets (24)
The Jets did the predictable in Joe Flacco’s revenge game vs. the Ravens. They showed more defensive fight from Robert Saleh’s improved unit, and some of their offensive newcomers made plays. But they are still rather overmatched as they further transition in their rebuild.
32. Seattle Seahawks (31)
The Seahawks are welcoming Wilson on Monday night and unfortunately they will see firsthand their full-time downgrade at QB to Geno Smith. Seattle is destined for the NFC cellar with a limited offensive and defensive cupboard in what could be Pete Carroll’s last season.
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